February 2018 Blog

Moody College of Communication

CHC Affiliate Blog: #OUTforHealth

Along with evidence-based health communication scholarship and education, community involvement and public health practice are key pieces of the mission of the Center for Health Communication. Last week, CHC postdoctoral scholar Laura Brown attended the first meeting of the working group meant to help inform the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission on strategic priorities for 2018 where attendees brought a variety of experiences, identities, and ideas to the table.

HCLI 2017

CHC Affiliate Blog: Health Communication and Leadership

As the Center for Health Communication team is hard at work on the program for our Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI), Dr. Mackert has been thinking a lot about leadership lately. From streamlining agendas to more mutually satisfying negotiations, he is knee-deep in thought-provoking lessons on leadership.

January 2018 Blog

CHC Affiliate Blog: Getting Organized for 2018

As we look ahead to 2018, I’ve been thinking a lot about where the Center for Health Communication (CHC) is going, how we can best organize our team to get great work done, and how that organization can also keep the work fun and invigorating.

December 2017 Blog

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CHC Affiliate Blog: Center for Health Communication Think Tank: Solving Practical Problems

The Center for Health Communication (CHC) has spent this fall looking for ways to support the mission and operations of Dell Medical School. One initiative I am particularly excited about is the CHC Think Tank.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Fast and Fruitful: A Fall Recap From the Center for Health Communication 

This fall marked the first full academic semester of the Center for Health Communication (CHC) as a joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School. Reflecting on what has happened since the summer, when we began to plan for this extremely busy fall, we’ve seen…

Kate Pounders presenting at PMP meeting

CHC Affiliate Blog: The Texas PMP and the Opioid Epidemic: Health Communication

The CHC kicked off a project this fall working on the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in conjunction with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The Texas PMP can be a helpful tool in combating the opioid epidemic in Texas, however, currently only one third of prescribers use the system. The CHC was tasked with creating a health communication campaign to promote the Texas PMP to prescribers as one component of the state’s broader work to address the epidemic.


Holiday Inspiration From a Little Girl Named Virginia

During this season, tips for wellness abound in psychological literature. The loss of loved ones, family conflict, unnamed sadness and loneliness impact many people. Tips can help but certain cultural experiences might help as well. So, rather than offer more wellness tips, Dr. Carrie Barron shares a story about 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon who in 1897, asked her father if there really was a Santa Claus.

November 2017 Blog


The Woman Behind the White Coat: Mary Beth Bennett

Guided by a passion for persuasion and the art behind ads, Mary Beth Bennett was drawn to the creative advertising program at Southern Methodist University after high school. Events in her personal life caused Bennett to take a particular interest in women’s health issues and the skills needed to take on her dream role of a marketing director for a non-profit.


CHC Affiliate Blog: Cross-Pollinating with Purpose

As you've probably heard, the CHC has recently been awarded funding to promote the web-based prescription monitoring program to health care providers and prescribers, but processes necessary for addressing the opioid crisis don’t end there. This semester we’re tackling the public health issue surrounding opioid abuse with the second year PharmD students in the Pharmacy Professional Communications course.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Positive Parenting and the Importance of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Though there are large number of treatments developed in academic settings, there is an equally large research to practice gap. Many of the populations studied in academic research trials don’t reflect the characteristics of children needing services in the real world.

October 2017 Blog

CHC Affiliate Blog: 99% Invisible

Effect design for health communication messaging is important, but Mike Mackert discusses how applying a design thinking framework to his research, teaching, and practice has helped him better understand design and how a message is more than just the words in an ad.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Thinking about a Growing Center for Health Communication Team

The CHC recently finalized a major contract on a statewide health communication campaign related to the opioid epidemic. (More details on that coming soon.) One of the many exciting outcomes of this project is the fact that we’ll get to add two new members of the CHC team. I couldn’t be more proud of and excited about the team I get to work with every day.

September 2017 Blog

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CHC Affiliate Blog: Following Your Research Interests, The Road to Engaging Men in Prenatal Health

There are many things that make Mike Mackert appreciate working in health communication as a field, but near the top of his list is the fact that his own personal interests – related to health literacy and message design – make it possible to explore different health issues, populations, and generally just always be on the hunt for interesting communication problems to try and solve. This can lead in unexpected and exciting directions.

CHC affiliates Mike Mackert and Shana Merlin

CHC Affiliate Blog: Grant Seeking as a Creative Excercise

At a recent Dell Med meeting of the Department of Population Health, chair Bill Tierney made an important point that highlighted what director Mike Mackert actually does enjoy about writing grants: it can be a fun and creative exercise!

CHC Faculty in Library

CHC Affiliate Blog: CHC Faculty as Teacher-Scholars

One of the things that Mike Mackert most values and appreciates about The University of Texas at Austin is the degree to which the institution and its leadership emphasize the importance of both research and teaching for faculty. He's been to the last few orientations for new faculty on campus, and every time the message is clear on the value of bringing research into the classroom and the benefits that can come from students working on research. This is why “teacher-scholar” is a popular term on our campus.

August 2017 Blog

Mike Mackert presenting at Dell Med all-hands meeting

CHC Affiliate Blog: Supporting (aka Funding!) Interdisciplinary Collaboration

One of the most unique and gratifying parts of health communication research and practice is the opportunity – requirement, almost – for interdisciplinary collaboration. This is one reasons Mike Mackert is excited about two Center for Health Communication programs and the kind of work they will fund and support in the coming years.

Participants at the Milestone zero presentation

CHC Affiliate Blog: Milestone 0 Presentation- Clinical Communication

What makes someone a good tourist? What makes a clinical rotation a good clerkship? How do I act like I belong when I have no idea what I’m doing? These questions were addressed by CHC Affiliates, Shana Merlin and Dr. Rob Milman at Milestone 0, a program helping UT Dell medical students transition from their year of preclinical study into their clinical clerkships.

Research is risky business

CHC Affiliate Blog: Research is Risky Business

Mike Mackert has certainly internalized the “Research is risky business” mantra, and passes it along to all of his advisees. Anyone who is exploring new ideas has to be willing to find out they’re wrong, especially important for graduate students – who are preparing for careers of pursuing answers to original research questions – to understand.


CHC Affiliate Blog: An Interdisciplinary Approach to New Student Orientation

A communication task that pharmacists perform daily is translating complex information about treatment regimens into language that patients can understand. During new student orientation, the Center kicked off its educational collaboration with the College of Pharmacy with a Communication Bootcamp. The bootcamp included an introduction to the Center, an overview of the importance of communication, and plenty of high-energy improvisational activities, one of which gave future Longhorn pharmacists a new technique to consider—using metaphors to translate that complex information.

July 2017 Blog

Men's pregnancy playbook screenshot

CHC Affiliate Blog: Anecdotes and Inspiration in Health Communication

Individual experiences can serve as inspiration or illustrate the importance of health communication in improving people's health and wellness. As an example, I became interested in the role of men in prenatal health when my family was expecting our first child. There wasn't anything really targeted to expectant fathers and our specific information needs. That led to a stream of intervention development and research.

Mike Mackert presenting at Dell Med all-hands meeting

CHC Affiliate Blog: The CHC as a Joint Academic Center

Mike Mackert reflects on the CHC becoming a joint operation between Moody and Dell Med, which was announced this spring, and how it presents exciting new opportunities for pursuing their mission of advancing evidence-based health communication in scholarship, education, and community involvement.

students in lobby

CHC Affiliate Blog: Learning How to Steal

Working in any field that requires creativity – whether it be advertising or health communication – it can be hard for students to realize that every single thing they do doesn’t have to be entirely original to be successful. Indeed, that will rarely be the case.

CHC Affiliate Blog: A Riotous Cessation

Carrie Barron shares how sometimes just when you think it is time to step it up, it is time to stop. For health reasons.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Evidence-Based Health Communication in Practice

One of the things that I most enjoy about working in health communication are those opportunities that allow for the translation of evidence-based research into actual practice. As an example, the CHC has been working for several years with Texas WIC regarding how to better engage and retain WIC clients.

June 2017 Blog

Mike Mackert, Director of the Center for Health Communication at the University of Texas at Austin speaking at the Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI)

CHC Affiliate Blog: The Value of Finding Your Tribe

One of the traditions of the Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI) is that on the last day each participant talks about what they will take from their time with us back to their home organization. Mike Mackert, PhD and Director of the Center for Health Communication, shares the value of "finding your tribe."

CHC Affiliate Blog: Health Communication Leadership Institute

This week is the CHC’s Third Annual Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI), which is one of my favorite weeks of the year. This institute is a chance for health communication experts to come together for professional networking and leadership development.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Health Communication: Opportunity for Interdisciplinary Education

I've taught an online health communication campaigns class in the summer for the last six or seven years. One of the things that makes this class so fun every single summer is the way students have their eyes opened to new ideas and career options related to health communication. Students from Moody often start to realize that while their training has been in one context (e.g., advertising students learning how to sell products and services), their skills could be transferred to health communication very effectively.

CHC Affiliate Blog: What Can Advertisers Teach Us About Health Communication?

In this Dell Medical School blog post, Mike Mackert, PhD and Director of the Center for Health Communication, explains how an advertising perspective can effectively influence health communication messaging.

May 2017 Blog

CHC Affiliate Blog: Talking Health Communication at ACHA

Tuesday afternoon a CHC team hosted a pre-conference workshop on health communication for the American College Health Association. I was joined by three fantastic CHC co-presenters: Jessica Hughes Wagner (to bring the campus health promotion perspective), Elizabeth Glowacki (to talk about tailoring and mobile health messaging), and Mackenzie Greenwell (to talk about interpersonal health communication).

CHC Affiliate Blog: The Disappointed Patient and the Beloved Task

A person comes to a doctor for help with a symptom or concern that feels like it might be untenable. What if there is no procedure to offer? Or a procedure carries more risk than reward? This can be difficult to impart. It may elicit disappointment. How does one deliver hope when all hope is pinned on a “fix”?

CHC Affiliate Blog: Electronic Health Records as a Work-in-Progress

Today most healthcare providers use electronic health record (EHR) systems to document and track patient care, and quite often patients also can access this information through online portals.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Focusing On One Thing at a Time

Don't be pretty good at 4 things. Do one thing really, really well.

baby in mother's arms

CHC Affiliate Blog: Health Reporters Should Spread the Word: Nipples are Normal

While breastfeeding is not for everyone, it remains the “gold standard” for infant nutrition. Politicians have been calling for improved accommodation for breastfeeding moms in airports, schools and the workplace. Women have the legal right to breastfeed in public in most states (including Texas). Even so, mothers continue to be harassed, shamed, and admonished for doing so.

April 2017 Blog

CHC Affiliate Blog: Taking Care of Medical Students

A medical student committed suicide. This heartbreaking story is becoming more and more common. Are pressures mounting? Or are we finally comfortable talking about a culture we have created that can be untenable for an otherwise healthy person. Maybe a bit of both.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Taking Care of Doctors Helps Patients​

An ER Doc attempted suicide after a young patient he cared for died. It seems that he followed protocol but the hospital relieved him of his duties. He was, as any feeling person would be, deeply tormented and saddened by her death. But the thing that seems to have put him over the edge was being blamed and punished.

CHC Affiliate Blog: A Close Friend at Work Increases Happiness and Productivity

Research shows that the quality of work relationships matter. In fact, having a close friend at work may be the special sauce for happiness, productivity, creativity and ongoing energy.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Road Chill

Recently, I asked a 60 something grandmother, great grandmother and guardian to two young children what gave her a sense of meaning or satisfaction in life.

CHC Affiliate Blog: Putting Creativity and Evidence into Practice

Center Director, Dr. Mike Mackert, shares the two elements of health communication he finds most crucial.